Monks’ association accuses junta of politicizing religion

A Mandalay-based monastic association has accused Myanmar’s military regime of trying to create division by spreading propaganda in monasteries.

In a statement released late last month, the Mandalay Monks’ Association denounced the distribution of 15,000 copies of a booklet about alleged electoral fraud to monasteries, calling the move an attempt to exploit religion for political purposes.

“As a monk, I strongly condemn such actions. They are trying to pit monks against each other, and against the people,” said Ven. Yaw Gyi, whose monastery is in Mandalay.

The pamphlet, which claims that the 2020 election was rigged in favour of the ousted ruling party, the National league for Democracy, seeks to justify last year’s military takeover, according to Ven. Yaw Gyi.

“The majority of monks don’t believe it at all,” he said, adding that some monks have burned or buried copies of the booklet in protest.

Another monk from Mandalay, Ven. Dhamma Metta, noted that under the military-drafted 2008 constitution, it is illegal to use religion in election campaigns or to advance a political agenda. 

“Monks are also not allowed to vote,” he said, citing Section 7 of Myanmar’s Election Law, which forbids ordained clergy from taking part in elections.

“Distributing such literature to monks is very disrespectful and can divide the monks and the people,” he added.

According to the Mandalay Monks’ Association statement, which was released on January 21, the junta has been stepping up its efforts to legitimize the coup because it has faced losses on many fronts since seizing power.

Even the regime’s efforts to bolster its claims of widespread electoral fraud have fallen flat, it noted. 

At a press conference held on January 14, the junta-appointed election commission said that it had discovered 2,169 cases of double voting and 1,077 other cases of voter fraud during the 2020 election.

Even if true, these figures represent a tiny fraction of the roughly 26 million ballots that were cast in the election—not nearly enough to influence the final outcome.

Despite the small number of cases that the regime claims to have revealed, more than 2,900 election officials are facing charges for alleged mismanagement and abuse of power.

Meanwhile, the regime continues to insist that it will hold new elections next year, even as conflict rages around the country in response to last year’s coup.

Related Articles

Back to top button